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    Being constipated is a change in your normal pattern rather than its actual duration as a ‘regular’ pattern for each individual is very variable. It is common and in most cases not a sign of serious illness. However, if there is no good reason, the person is above aged 45 and it is prolonged, you should see your doctor.

    Self Help

    • A diet rich in fibre (fruit and vegetables, cereals) and plenty of fluids certainly helps.
    • Exercise is one of life’s great little movers.
    • Laxatives on a regular basis are best avoided unless there is no alternative and is advised by your doctor.
    • Codeine can cause constipation when used regularly. Ask your doctor about alternative painkillers.

    See Your Doctor If

    • There is mucus (slime) or blood mixed in the bowel movement (stool).
    • There is no good reason for the constipation.
    • Constipation alternates with diarrhoea or loose motions.
    • There is associated weight loss or loss of appetite.